Marco Cuesta – FirstBlood.io – Bringing blockchain technology to esports

Marco Cuesta is one of the cofounders of FirstBlood.io, a company which recently raised over $6 million (£4.72m), and he spoke to Esports Insider with the blockchain esports focused platform set to launch its Alpha this month. 

Marco Cuesta, firstblood
Marco Cuesta, firstblood

Esports Insider: Who is involved, why was it founded and what are your backgrounds?

Marco: We’re pretty international! We all met in Boston face to face for the first time recently to discuss plans and enjoy a hackathon. One of our developers is originally from Vietnam, one is from Chicago, our CEO  lives in Boston, our Community Manager is from North Carolina, whilst another of our advisors,who’s one of the foremost blockchain security experts, is from Finland.

I’m on the business development side of things. This is why I attended and spoke at the Naruscope conference back in October. And I’ve been in and out of Vegas regularly since as there’s so much interest there. We’ve also had the pleasure of connecting with Esports Integrity Coalition (ESIC) Commissioner Ian Smith who is a great support in what we’re doing.

“Bitcoin was highly volatile at this time but we saw it as a fantastic opportunity. Down the line, Joe and our recent hire, Anik Dang, started talking options within gaming.”

Naruscope was a success for us despite missing out on the Startup Launchpad. That was our first time presenting to that large a crowd however so we learnt a lot, and it was well received.

Going backward to our origin story, Joe (Joe Zhou, CEO and co-founder) and I met in college and were both financial traders. He introduced me to Bitcoin and I was hooked.

Bitcoin was highly volatile at this time but we saw it as a fantastic opportunity. Down the line, Joe and our recent hire, Anik Dang, started talking options within gaming. Both loved League of Legends and decided to enter the Riot API challenge. They worked on a ranking 1v1 matching system. Their idea was validated by the overwhelming engagement of the community.

Using that as a springboard we started to look at integrating blockchain into the platform as it was something that nobody else was doing at the time. Others soon started to pop up with crypto related platforms and we started to consider how to differentiate ourselves. We then considered ‘what are the biggest problems in esports’? We came up with hacking and cheating. Clearly some some form of integrity system with self reporting issues was required, and we looked into this one.

This was where FirstBlood was born. This includes self reporting but is backed up by game data via API, and if there’s anything inconsistent, or if there are problems such as racism, you can raise a case which will then be adjudicated by jurors.

ESI: Can you tell us a bit more about how you prevent cheating…witnesses, jurors etc.? How do you ensure a lack of bias from these persons? Big data will play a part in time? Will there be a ‘complaints’ trial procedure for disputes..

Marco: Ideally we would like those jurors to be intense gamers and to understand the intricacies of the title. Whilst racism is easy to spot and prove via the chat, but if it’s something like hacking it’s a lot harder to tell.

“We would like those jurors to be intense gamers and to understand the intricacies of the title. You vote anonymously so nobody can corrupt say 100 jurors in the space of one hour.”

If jurors vote against the consensus they’ll lose tokens and or reputation on our ranking system. When a case emerges, a randomised service will send out a ping to X amount of people on the platform asking if they’d like to be adjudicate. Those who agree will review evidence and make their best judgement. Collective reporting has been shown to produce a more correct consensus over a period of time compared to a single, consistent board who of course can be bought, and are very expensive to maintain.

firstblood-hk
FirstBlood at Ethereum Meetup in Hong Kong

You vote anonymously so nobody can corrupt say 100 jurors in the space of one hour. Once a verdict is reached, everyone who voted on the losing side will be penalised in some way. Those that take part are rewarded, but with this ecosystem there are no free lunches. You need to either compete and win to win tokens that way, or support it via methods like these. 

Who is bringing up the cases will be monitored to avoid there being any malicious use of this feature, and there’s an internal ranking system so we can make sure players are matched with genuine and legitimate individuals.

ESI: What milestones do you aim to reach in 2017?

Marco: We’ll be launching our Alpha before the end of this year. I won’t lie; this . It’s the first time anything like this has been done using blockchain technology. It’ll be built on Ethereum (which is the second largest network next to Bitcoin), you can put entire programs on it and that’s where we’ll be. There is also the testnet, which is a mirror, and this is where our program will be for the Alpha so nobody is using their own real tokens during this phase. This is to work out bugs without losing anyone value.

“We’ll be doing a lot of work to ensure that our platform is remarkably simple.”

Within a month of this launch we want to move it over onto the real network. From then we’ll be adding more features in gradually once the Beta is a bit more mature. The Beta we’re aiming to go live with in May.

We’ll be doing a lot of work to ensure that our platform is remarkably simple. Whilst gamers are more technically savvy than most in general, we want to make it as simple as possible, and make things crystal clear so that anyone can be involved.

Marketing wise, we’re looking into partnering with streamers. We’re in no rush however, as we’d like someone who is genuinely interested in our platform and supports it rather than just paying someone off to parrot whatever you want them to.

ESI: $6m raised in a few minutes. Fair to say the crowd-sale went pretty well…

Marco: It was $6.1m in 4 ethereum blocks (about 1 minute) to be precise. It took the blockchain a little longer to process those but that’s when all the orders were submitted! Considering we’d planned for this to be open for one month… yes, it wasn’t bad at all.